Club Hopping…from Mountain Lake to Palm Beach to Hillsboro – Florida at its Finest!





By Brian D. White




The IL Contingent in Palm Beach


There is a reason so many people flock to Sunny, beautiful Florida year after year and we have the inside scoop on the most fabulous places to visit! I’ve been going to Palm Beach since a child visiting my Grand Parents from Vermont who spent their winters in Palm Beach. (growing up on the W. Coast of FL near Gasparilla Island where my fathers family from Massachusetts spent the winters) I bought my first pair of Gucci loafers on Worth Avenue back when I was 14 and have always loved going to Polo Games, elegant clubs, shopping on Worth Ave….. and my favorite leisure activity of sunbathing…. ever since.


Todd D. H. Schwebel, Edward K. Rutledge, James M. Kinney and Brian D. White visiting Bok Tower in Lake Wales, FL


Bok Tower Gardens located in Lake Wales, Florida


Fabulous architecture at The Mountain Lake Club


We started our trip this year with a visit to The Mountain Lake Club- tucked away among hundreds of acres of orange groves near Lake Wales Florida. We visit dear friends and it’s a special place set back in time where members wear all white for regular Croquet games and (actually) dress for dinner. The architecture is amazing with many homes reminiscent of Addison Mizner (epitomized the “society architect”) who also designed many of the most glamorous homes in Palm Beach. After our first day of just relaxing and sunbathing and delicious Cassoulet painstakingly prepared by our hosts – the next day we visited Bok Tower in Lake Wales. We had a private tour with admittance inside the “Founders Room” of the tower. Surrounded by lush gardens and my favorite pink & white Camellias- this was a highlight if you have never been before. We went to a lovely piano & flute concert at the club followed by cocktails & dinner, which was delicious & takes you back to another era. The club itself looks like it is from the 1930’s – as if it were decorated by Dorothy Draper herself and is one of the most stylish hidden treasures in Florida with everything from Golf, pool, tennis, shooting, croquet to bridge, mohjong, book club, needlepoint – you name it…this club has it!


(L to R) James M. Kinney, Liza Yntema and Brian D. White at Club Colette


(L to R) Bill Truitt, Ann Hamm, Alexandra Hoyle, Bill Hamm and Philip Vaughn at Club Colette


We then headed to Palm Beach with a whirlwind of activities for ”The Colonial Warriors Weekend” – starting out with Seafood Night at one of our favorite places with Ann & Bill Hamm….cocktails, dinner and dancing….all on a Wednesday night! I go insane over fresh colossal Stone Crabs and I may have had 10 or 12 myself….but who’s counting! On Thursday we were at the chic- Club Colette with our usual “Welcome Dinner” I organize for our Illinois Contingent and special friends in and visiting Palm Beach. Usually from 30-40 people we start with cocktails & hors d’oeuvres – then are seated for a fabulous dinner of chopped b.l.t. salad followed by Duckling L’Orange (the chef’s specialty) and Chocolate Souffle. It’s a special way to start the PB leg of the trip and gets everyone in the mood for more fun to come!


(L to R) Amanda Rutledge, Krystian von Speidel, Steve Johnson, Ryan Woods- CEO of The New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston, John Rutledge and Todd D. H. Schwebel


(L to R) Bill Hamm, Kipper Hendrick, Trigg Waller, Ann Hamm, Oscar Tatosian, Bud Hendrick and Ellen Waller


Menu of Club Colette favorites including the Chopped b.l.t Salad, Duckling L’Orange and Chocolate Souffle was served


While in Palm Beach we stay with dear friends as well where there is the most fabulous “Pagoda” Pool House designed by Jessica Lagrange who I consider one of the finest designers in the country. Besides being the nicest person you could ever meet- her taste, style and attention to detail is unparalleled.


Gorgeous home we visited while in Palm Beach and INCREDIBLE Pagoda Pool House


FABULOUS interior designed by Jessica Lagrange for this Pagoda Pool House including a mirrored trellis border and tented ceiling


Friday rolls around and I really just want to sunbathe all day so we picked up a quick lunch to go from Sant Ambroeus which even at 8:30 in the morning….is quite the scene…..I frankly want to avoid. Too many fur trimmed Chanel boots & diamonds worn in the morning by people who’ve never been to PB before – for my taste – so we quickly skedaddle and head to the private beach of our hosts! (in my Sperry Top Siders & stuff from Murray’s Toggery Shop)


James M. Kinney and Brian D. White attending one of several pre-parties in Palm Beach before the Dinner Dance


That evening is the annual white tie dinner dance hosted by The Society of Colonial Wars in the state of Florida – which even Palm Beachers say – is one of the most GLAMOROUS parties held at the club. We have 2 “pre parties” to attend starting at Lynn & Charlie Poekel’s apartment just down the street for about 40 minutes – then another little gathering a friend hosts inside the club. I will add that the event takes place at probably the most elegant & glamorous PRIVATE CLUB in Palm Beach…..and leave it at that. NO names….NO photos are allowed the entire evening. We did however have ceremonial toasts to the President of the U.S, the King of England, and sang “God Bless America”. We dined on Honey Roasted Pear Salad, Filet Mignon and Grand Marnier Souffle and danced all night to The Bob Hardwick Sound and a delightful evening was had by over 300 guests. We did manage to get a nice group pix of our IL Contingent at another location before the dinner dance which is shown at the top of this story! And as they say….a picture is worth a 1000 words.


(L to R) Edmund H. Lester, Ann Hamm, Brian D. White, Bill Hamm, James M. Kinney and Steve Johnson at our favorite Renato’s


(L to R) David Von Nirschl, Janet Owen, Julie Harron, Joe Scherberger, Jennifer Cornell, and Rodger Owen at Renato’s


(L to R) Jennifer Cornell, Rodger Owen, Brian D. White and David Von Nirschl at Le Bar in Palm Beach


Saturday rolls around and we have an annual Brunch at another elegant… and VERY PRIVATE CLUB (NO names…NO photos) followed by a bit of shopping where I always have to stop by my favorite store in Palm Beach- Leta Austin Foster- (who also happens to be a Colonial Dame) where I purchased a fun note pad for one of our hosts titled: “The Queen of F#$@ing Everything” followed by a nap and dinner at our favorite restaurant – Renato’s! I also organize several tables year after year outside in the courtyard and always have the seafood trio, Dover Sole and Opera Cake which is my favorite. We then headed over to Le Bar for a drink and enjoyed the scene……


Polo at its FINEST at the National Polo Club in Wellington, FL


(L to R) Ann Hamm and Brian D. White at Polo


Sunday is the annual Polo Game lined up by Colonial Warrior Joe Meyer who is also a former Chairman of the U.S. Polo Association – at The National Polo Club in Wellington, FL. The caviar was BACK on the sumptuous buffet and it turned out to be another gorgeous day of watching Polo & drinking Bloody Mary’s all day! No Bill Gates sightings this trip….but plenty of excitement on and off the field-


(L to R) James M. Kinney, Todd D. H. Schwebel, Bill Hamm, Joe Meyer- Former Chairman of the U.S Polo Association, Ellen Waller, Trigg Waller and Brian D. White at Polo


Colonial Warriors and Guests enjoying a day of Polo and fabulous buffet from The Mallot Grill at The National Polo Club in Wellington, FL


That night we went to The Palm Beach Yacht Club for dinner with Charlie & Lynn Poekel and their friend Bucky Pryor and had a delightful evening with “Lobster Escargot”, Nantucket Bay Scallops and Bananas Foster-


(L to R) Charlie Poekel, Bucky Pryor, James M. Kinney, Brian D. White and Lynn Poekel at The Palm Beach Yacht Club


The next day we headed over to The Hillsboro Club to visit Janet & Rodger Owen and had a blast! Very relaxed…yet very civilized. No caps worn inside the clubhouse and always a jacket & tie for dinner. We started at the Montgomery Lounge for cocktails where we met a Sudler cousin and later after dinner closed it down with other Colonial Warriors who were also there. Many were in for a big Bridge Tournament week & we kept running into other Chicagoans all over the club.


Several of these Clubs mentioned also have reciprocal agreements with The Social Register Association which include many Private Clubs all over the world and is a very special benefit of Membership.


The famous Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse built in 1907


The Hillsboro Club as seen from the beach


(L to R) Rodger Owen, Janet Owen, James M. Kinney and Brian D. White


Tuesday, we packed up and headed back to Chicago….the only way I know how- In a coat & tie! We seem to be some of the very few who actually dress decently for a flight now a days. (besides other Colonial Warriors usually in Blue Blazers!) I’ve worn a coat & tie traveling since I was a kid….and will NEVER change. We are ALWAYS treated better everywhere we go and this trip the stewardess brought over a bottle of champagne and said we were the best dressed on the flight! We’ve been upgraded to First Class several times with the stewardess saying “you just look like you actually belonged there”. I joke that I sleep in a Coat & Tie….


View from our room of the coconut palms & beach outside our window


Final day & heading home after 10 days running around Florida!


It was a wonderful trip, seeing many friends from around the country and getting a little break from the Chicago winter!